The board of More Group, the UK poster company, is seeking urgent
talks with its rival, Decaux, after the French-owned street furniture
firm upped the ante in its battle for control of the British
Decaux bolstered its takeover offer for More on Tuesday, offering to pay
More shareholders pounds 12.20 in cash per share - up from its previous
bid of pounds 11.10 a share - and has advised More shareholders to take
no action until the outcome of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission
enquiry is known. The offer beats a revised pounds 11.10 offer from
Clear Channel, the US company also stalking More Group.
At the same time, Decaux pledged to co-operate with the MMC enquiry into
the proposed merger.
But More’s board issued a statement telling its shareholders to take no
action at this time and saying it was urgently seeking a meeting with
Decaux ’to understand in detail the reasoning behind New Decaux’s
opinion on the outstanding competition issues’.
The proposed Decaux/ More merger looked set to collapse last week after
the Office of Fair Trading recommended an MMC enquiry into the impact of
the merger on the local authorities for whom Decaux and More provide
street furniture in return for the right to sell ads on it.
Decaux maintains that the deal with More would not create undue market
Jean-Francois Decaux, the chief executive of Decaux, said: ’We were
surprised by the decision to refer our offer to the MMC, since this
contradicts decisions taken by the OFT in 1994-95 not to regard the bus
shelter market as separate.’
However, Alan Simmons, the chief executive of the poster specialist,
Concord, said the MMC enquiry could ’throw a full spotlight on the
commercial side of the outdoor market, something we could really do
’On the other hand, it would at least redefine the ground rules, which
have become very blurred,’ he added.